A critical foul called on rookie Luis Scola in the waning moments of Monday night's Game 2 of the Jazz-Rockets NBA first-round playoff series remained the talk of town Tuesday in Houston.
Scola was tagged for his left-corner contact with Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, negating a 3-pointer by Houston guard Bobby Jackson that would have tied the game at 85 with 45.4 seconds remaining.
Rockets coach Rick Adelman was livid at his news conference after the Jazz's 90-84 win.
"He (Kirilenko) literally flopped," Adelman said. "Let the players decide it. We tie the game, let's see if they can win. That obviously changed everything."
Description of the play from ESPN.com's John Hollinger: "(Tracy) McGrady had recovered a loose ball in the left corner and was passing the ball crosscourt to (Jackson). ... But as Kirilenko charged out to defend McGrady, Scola put his arm out and nudged him.
"Kirilenko embellished the contact with a swan dive ... that would have made Greg Louganis proud. Meanwhile, replays seemed to show referee Tony Brothers looking away from the play until he noticed Kirilenko completing his second somersault and tucking into the pike position, and only then making the call. It wasn't his call anyway the outside ref is supposed to make it, and he took a pass."
The narrative in Tuesday's Houston Chronicle: "Scola appeared to push in the direction of Kirilenko in the corner and Kirilenko went flying, which got the referees' attention ... The call perhaps changed the momentum of the game and pushed the Rockets into a 2-0 hole."
McGrady, like Adelman, was incensed.
"You can't call that," the Rockets' star told the Houston Chronicle. "I saw a replay, and that was a bad call. I like Tony Brothers, but that was a bad call. Very, very bad call. Three points down at a crucial point in the game, and Kirilenko flops. He flops, and you call the foul on that? It was a bad call."
Scola, meanwhile, took the high road."I don't like to put the loss on the ref," the rookie from Argentina said. "I don't think that's fair. It was part of the game, and sometimes they make good calls and sometimes they make mistakes just like we do. I don't think we lost because of them."
LOOKING AHEAD: Looking ahead to a possible Jazz-Los Angeles Lakers second-round series, which would happen should Utah finish off Houston with two more victories and the top-seeded Lakers advance as expected by disposing of Denver, the Los Angeles Daily News reported that "Lakers coach Phil Jackson acknowledged Monday for the first time that injured center Andrew Bynum's chances of playing again this season were 'remote.'"
Bynum has been out since dislocating his left kneecap during a Jan. 13 game against Memphis.According to the Daily News, when "Jackson was asked a question about the difficulty of hurriedly pairing Bynum with Pau Gasol and possibly messing up the Lakers' chemistry," Jackson responded, "I think without a doubt that Andrew would come off the bench and we would play him a little bit off the bench if there was any chance that he could come back and play again, but it's such a remote thing. We're not seriously thinking about it."
JACKSON WATCH: The New York Daily News reported Tuesday that an unidentified "Chicago Bulls source confirmed that the team has contacted (ex-Jazz point guard Mark) Jackson about its coaching vacancy," but "it is unclear if Jackson ... will interview with the Bulls."
Jackson also is a leading candidate to coach the New York Knicks, one of his former teams.But the New York Times reported Tuesday that while Jackson "has been portrayed as the front-runner, (new Knicks basketball boss Donnie) Walsh has signaled to people around the league that he is open-minded and intends to be thorough in his search."
LOCKER ROOM SPEECH: Here's what TNT's microphones picked up from Jerry Sloan while the Jazz coach was talking to his team prior to Monday's Game 2: "They are going to come at you hard, you've got to stay focused on what we're trying to do and try to drive it in them right now. You don't want to say, 'Wait until I get back to Salt Lake.'"
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